Pestel: A Maritime and Natural Jewel of Haiti
Pestel is a small village with 1500 inhabitants. It was originally a natural port founded by a French settler, François Pestel, from Grand-Ville in Normandy. He commanded the island of Grande Cayemite in 1750. The village is located between two hills, along a single steep road leading to the sea. It constituted an easily defendable position.
The town of Pestel is a visual delight, a place of relaxation where time seems to flow peacefully.
Sailing to Haiti in Pestel
Pestel is located 150 km west of Port-au-Prince. Since March 1986, the people of Pestel have been organizing a large maritime festival that takes place on Easter Monday. The initiator of this “sea festival” is the French navigator Alain Bosmans. It consists of three regattas: one with dugout canoes or “wooden dugouts” (hollowed-out tree trunks), one with boats measuring 5 to 6 meters, and the most prestigious one with larger vessels whose sails are made of stitched-together canvas sacks. It is this type of boat that transports cargo between Port-au-Prince and Pestel. The festivities are animated by the rara music groups present.
The Fort Réfléchi overlooks the port. Around the port, adults and children offer to guide you. For a fee, they will guide you in climbing the hill that overlooks the town. You will enjoy a panorama that encompasses the town of Pestel. From there, you can ask the guide to take you to the Cave of the Indians, a small cave near the fort, named because the indigenous people took refuge there, fleeing from the Spaniards. The cave flooded, and they all perished by drowning. Bones have been observed there.
The Salt Spring is located at the mouth of a river near Pestel. You can get there on foot in 25 minutes or by boat in 10 minutes, paying 3 dollars to the fishermen you’ll find at the Pestel port. The Salt Spring is a beautiful secluded cove that’s difficult to access due to the dense vegetation.
In Pestel, you can also rent boats to reach Les Basses, in the Baradères peninsula. The fishing villages there are picturesque. The boat journey to Grande Cayemites takes an hour from Pestel and costs 40 dollars. From Anse-à-Maçon, you’ll have a view of the distant Massif de la Hotte and its peak, Macaya. On this island, you’ll find beautiful untouched beaches. A nautical society in the Bay of Cayemites aims to promote tourism on the island.
Pestel is truly a maritime and natural jewel of Haiti. Its spectacular landscapes, rich maritime history, and traditional festivities make it a unique destination, ideal for travelers seeking authenticity and adventure. Whether you want to explore the picturesque surroundings by boat, climb the hill to admire the panoramic view, or discover the Cave of the Indians, Pestel offers unforgettable experiences in the heart of untouched nature. Don’t miss the chance to visit this enchanting village during your stay in Haiti.